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Canadiens @ Oilers recap: Young stars, newcomers shine in another win – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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With a day off on Sunday, the Montreal Canadiens strolled back into Rogers Place with a massive amount of swagger following a 5-1 blowout on Saturday night. With a pair of two-goal efforts from Jeff Petry and Tomas Tatar, plus a stellar showing from Carey Price, Montreal romped through a shellshocked Oilers team.

The Oilers changed their lineup, possibly for the worse by swapping Caleb Jones and Ethan Bear for William Lagesson and Kris Russell on defence, but did add Zack Kassian back to Connor McDavid’s wing.

The Canadiens turned to Jake Allen in net for his first start in a Montreal uniform, while the Oilers stuck with Mikko Koskinen despite his poor showing on Saturday.

Unlike the first contest, it was the Oilers who started the game in control, taking advantage of a poorly timed icing to start their offensive attack. The top line tried to take advantage of their matchup with the Habs’ fourth line, but a strong series of saves from Allen denied them the game’s opening goal.

Josh Anderson came up a bit lame after a hit deep in the Habs’ zone, but his absence was immediately forgotten by what happened next. An in-zone faceoff went back to Brett Kulak at the left point. Kulak, not seeing a lane, dished it off to Alexander Romanov playing to his right. The rookie waited a second, then snapped off a quick shot that hit Koskinen, then slowly slithered through him and into the back of the net, putting Montreal up by a goal midway through the first period.

The Canadiens threatened their own lead shortly afterward, with Phillip Danault taking a two-minute stop in the penalty box for interference. Connor McDavid, bafflingly, missed a clean chance, but a second penalty on Joel Armia also gave the Oilers a short crack at a two-man advantage. An incredible solo effort from Ben Chiarot to stop a pass then maul the puck-carrier allowed Montreal to kill off Armia’s holding penatly, only for Chiarot to then fire the puck out of play for a third straight penalty.

An impressive nearly seven-minute stretch of penalty-killing came to an end without a goal against, thanks to some extremely strong work across the board, but with a big nod to Jake Evans and Paul Byron during the final stretch. The heroic showing from the penalty-killers ensured Montreal took its one-goal lead into the first intermission, thanks to Romanov’s first career goal.

The second period started with the Canadiens’ top line nearly doubling the advantage on an ill-timed Koskinen rebound. Kulak fired a puck on net, and it dribbled to the right of the Oilers’ net, but Brendan Gallagher just missed the follow-up chance with Koskinen kicking out his pad to deny the Habs winger his first goal of the season.

The rookie goal-scorer put the Canadiens short-handed early into the period, being called for a hefty crosscheck into the back of Alex Chiasson. Some impressive speed from Evans and more timely clears fended off the Oilers for a fourth time, keeping the one-goal lead intact with just over 13 minutes left to play in the second period.

Danault managed to draw a call of his own shortly after the kill, sending Adam Larsson to the penalty box and Montreal to the power play. While the Habs generated a few looks, they didn’t find a breakthrough, but were given another shot late in the period after dominating possession in the Oilers zone for several minutes. The two units had plenty of chances, including Tyler Toffoli alone in the slot, and Nick Suzuki just as the penalty expired, but it was Koskinen finally coming up with a big save to keep the Habs from adding to their lead.

A badly timed late hit from Gallagher on Darnell Nurse put the Habs back on the penalty kill, however a kick save, and sprawling cover by Allen, denied Edmonton a chance to tie the game.

Then, a somewhat dubious call on Connor McDavid put the Habs back on the power play with just under two minutes left to play in the period. Devin Shore got tangled up with Jeff Petry on the ensuing attack, taking down Koskinen at the same time as Shea Weber broke in for a chance on net. He followed his own rebound, then banked the shot in off of Koskinen’s head as the Oilers goalie attempted to sort himself out. It was initially called no goal on the ice, but a bold challenge by Claude Julien forced the officials to reverse their call, giving Montreal a late two-goal lead.

While Chiasson nearly scored before the clock expired, his heavy shot clanged off the post, and the Canadiens went into the second intermission with a two goal lead and a heap of momentum behind them.

Montreal started the final period slowly chipping away at the clock and keeping the Oilers’ big line quiet as best they could. Another cross-checking penalty, this time on Weber put Montreal short-handed for a sixth time with 16 minutes or so left to play. Again the rolling units of the Montreal penalty kill stymied the Oilers.

The penalty parade continued between the two clubs, with Larsson drilling Evans in the numbers, taking a two-minute penalty for interference just before the halfway mark of the final period. A massive pile up in the dying moments of the man advantage looked like it gave the Habs another goal, but a last-second whistle blew the play dead just as a Montreal stick chipped it past a sprawled Koskinen.

A seventh penalty by Montreal put the inept Oilers power play back on the ice, and Montreal took that personally. Petry poked the puck away in the slot, starting a two-on-one with Artturi Lehkonen and Danault, and the Finnish winger wired his first goal of the year under Koskinen’s glove to put the Habs firmly in control of the game.

A late Habs power play allowed the Oilers to get on the board, as Shore poked a puck off Jonathan Drouin’s stick, breaking in on Allen and rifling one by the Habs goalie. It allowed the Oilers a chance to also pull Koskinen, but they never got closer than two goals as Montreal saw out the end of the game without issue, winning 3-1.

Montreal continues the road trip, heading to Vancouver for a three-game stint with the Canucks, with a back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday night, and a Saturday meeting to finish the week.

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Wayne Gretzky's Father Walter Gretzky Dead at 82 After Parkinson's Battle – TMZ

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Calgary Flames fire Geoff Ward, name Darryl Sutter as new head coach – ESPN

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The Calgary Flames fired head coach Geoff Ward on Thursday night, replacing him with former coach and two-time Stanley Cup champion Darryl Sutter.

The Flames routed the Ottawa Senators 7-3 at home on Thursday night, but Ward’s fate was apparently sealed after going 11-11-2 to start the season. He was officially hired in the offseason after replacing Bill Peters on an interim basis last season.

Overall, Ward was 35-26-5 in his first NHL head-coaching stint.

Sutter has been a head coach for 18 seasons in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, Flames and Los Angeles Kings. Sutter led the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, playing a puck-possessing system that made Los Angeles one of the league’s top defensive teams.

He has a career coaching record of 634-467-101-83, including 107-73-15-15 as head coach of the Flames from 2002 to ’06, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. He also served as the team’s general manager from 2003 to ’10. Sutter has had winning seasons in 15 of his 18 years behind an NHL bench as head coach. His last NHL job was as an advisor to the Anaheim Ducks.

Sutter’s deal with Calgary is for three years.

This is the fifth head coach hired by general manager Brad Treliving since he took over the Flames in 2014. Calgary is two points out of the final playoff spot in the West Division, although the Montreal Canadiens — who fired their head coach last week — have two games in hand.

Ward held court with the media after the win over Ottawa and appeared unaware of his fate.

“We’ve got to get ourselves ready again for another hard hockey game,” Ward said. “We’re really not thinking about what’s happened in the past; we’re thinking about what we need to do to prepare ourselves [for] the next one.”

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Sheldon Keefe, Maple Leafs reflect on cherished memories of Walter Gretzky – Sportsnet.ca

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The coach, the captain, and the superstar all had something to say about hockey’s loss before they fielded questions about their own.

Funny how quick the big things — perspective, legacy, family — can make two mid-season points shrink into the blip they are.

Moments after stepping off the Vancouver ice in defeat, 3-1 by the Canucks, the Toronto Maple Leafs learned that Walter Gretzky had passed away. He was 82 and roundly beloved.

Sheldon Keefe, John Tavares and Auston Matthews each took a moment to pass along their condolences to the Gretzky family.

Like so many Ontarians who grew up hanging around rinks, Keefe had met Wayne’s dad a few times, but one stands out.

Walter visited Pembroke with the NHL Old-Timers when Keefe was coaching the Lumber Kings, and the two had a small time to chat.

Walter always made time to chat.

“The lasting memory I have of that is just him sitting around for what seemed for hours throughout the game, signing autographs and taking pictures with everybody that wanted one, and chatting with anybody who wanted to talk too,” Keefe recalled.

“It was pretty cool to see someone of his stature, what he means to the game, what he’s brought to the game, and to be all the way out in Pembroke, Ont., and taking part in an event like that for people that wouldn’t normally get such an opportunity.”

Tavares, too, met Walter when he was a wee rink rat. His memory can’t quite pin down the year or the place, because hockey’s dad was always around the rinks, immersed in the hockey community. But still, Tavares remembers how Walter made him feel.

“Just his graciousness, big smile, and obviously a passion for the game,” Tavares said. “Just a very gracious man, from what I remember as a kid.”

Slotted in its proper place — below the fold, and well below Walter’s endearing smile — the Maple Leafs’ defeat holds even less meaning.

Build a seven-point lead over your division. Reel off a 10-game point streak. Shut down the most electric player in the game (since, well, Walter’s son) for 180 straight minutes. Do all that, and you can afford a letdown game.

The Maple Leafs arrived late in Vancouver to play their second game in two nights, third in four nights, and fourth in six nights — over three time zones.

Start your third-string goaltender in a matchup like this one, even against the Elias Pettersson–free Canucks, and it’s easy for the NHL’s No. 1–ranked club to write this off as a schedule casualty.

Jake Virtanen — traded a zillion times in the comments section and call-in shows — opened the scoring early by driving to the net around Justin Holl. Pierre Engvall knotted the score at one after taking an Ilya Mikheyev touch pass and driving to the slot.

But Virtanen struck again in Period 2, whipping the winner past Michael Hutchinson off the rush from a cringe-inducing angle.

“As I was going down into the post, I saw his wrists open up and knew he was coming high. From there, I just slipped off the post a little bit,” Hutchinson explained. “It was just a little bit of a mess for me.

“An unfortunate goal at an unfortunate time of the game.”

What didn’t help was Auston Matthews pinging posts or a rested Vancouver side starting Thatcher “Bubble” Demko, who turned away 31 of the 32 shots Toronto funneled his way.

“Demmer’s a great goalie. He’s big, takes up a lot of space, and I think ever since the bubble in the playoffs last year he’s really come into his own,” said Matthews, who knows the California native on a personal level. “He’s an awesome guy and really great person. He played really well tonight.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to tip your hat.”

With Toronto’s own top two goalies both considered day-to-day as they recover from lower-body injuries, the positive news for Saturday’s rematch is that Frederik Andersen will be available.

You can bet the Maple Leafs will have more jump in their legs. Just as you can bet that game, on Hockey Night in Canada, will begin with more tributes to and memories of Walter Gretzky.

Let them flood like a backyard rink.

“It’s a terrible loss of a great man that gave so many terrific things to our game, to our sport,” Keefe said. “Certainly leaves a legacy behind that we will never forget.”

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